The mass-produced shirt

It’s baffling to think that the plain tee should never cost over $10, but when they aren’t, we need to question why.

In today’s society, $10 gets you an average (but good!) lunch and if you’re heading to the movies on a good day, an adult ticket. So it becomes a norm to think that $10 is the maximum budget that you’d want to spend on a plain white tee, right?

Due to the increase of mass production in fast fashion and consumerism hitting its peak, the ideal social thinking has brainwashed us into thinking that extremely cheap and mass produced clothing is an acceptable norm, and anything over that standardised price is ‘too expensive’ – too good to be true. As consumers feed the wants and desires of cheaper clothes, mass production businesses seek to benefit the best they can by dropping the prices of their products to meet deadlines and boost the most profit against their competition. However, in any industry where one side benefits more, the other side is being taken advantage off – and this is no different in the fashion industry. With expected prices of products dropping to an all-time low, it becomes less consistent and realistic to meet the minimum standards of workers’ rights, with an emphasis on businesses that contract overseas and offshore factories.

The general rule of thumb as per the argument within the industry to consider buying ethically (which tends to be more expensive, understandably with the sustainable development and production) is that the cheaper the product at retail level, the more harmful its life cycle is to the environment. With the textiles sector of the industry being one o the most resource-intensive in the world, it certainly doesn’t help that society thinks on a throwaway approach to fast fashion in an obsolete sense.

And yet so many people still roll their eyes and scoff at the very idea of spending $50 or more on a plain shirt, let alone the thought of a $500 jacket, or $800 denim jeans, forgetting that the time, commitment and dedication towards sustainable thinking in developing ethical clothing is simply a way to ensure that those involved in the industry are given their dues with proper wages and working environments. The environmental awareness is not limited to ethical, sustainable and young designers however, with many luxury companies also striving to prove a point with the importance of buying ethical products beyond the purchase for materialism and brand names. François-Henri Pinault, CEO of luxury group Kering is such an example of an individual in the fashion industry who is strongly committed to sustainability, using Gucci as an innovative experiment to be more sustainable with their resources.

No doubt that sustainability and ethical consumerism is a conscious and ongoing battle between the industry and consumers, and it’s not a battle that can be won overnight – understandably many people can’t justify buying a $50 shirt, deemed too expensive, when they could buy a handful of $10 shirts for better value. However it’s interesting to consider the human psychology thought process that buying one expensive shirt will last longer than buying lots of cheap shirts that get discarded repeatedly. It’s about what happens in the long run that will see the outcome of a more sustainable and ethically budding industry.

But it doesn’t always come easy.